Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, today welcomed the strong retail sales in January as evidenced by numbers released by the CSO this morning. Retail sales values, excluding bars and car sales, increased by 3.3% in January over the same month in 2016 pointing to a strong performance over the post Christmas January sales period.
There was also strong volume growth across the retail sector in January with sales volumes increasing 1.5% in the month and by 6.3% compared to January 2016. Among the best performing categories were furniture and lighting, electrical goods and hardware.
Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke said: “Given the disappointing trading levels during the usually busy month of December, it is encouraging to see 2017 start so strongly in terms of activity at Irish tills. Post-holiday sales can sometimes fall flat after a busy pre-Christmas period but it would appear that the reverse is the case this year. What is most encouraging is that all retail categories outperformed the same period in 2016 and this should offer hope for the coming months.”
However, Mr Burke sounded a note of caution when assessing the hopes for the sector over the coming year. "Retailers are operating in increasingly uncertain times and the fluctuation in performance of the sector month-on-month clearly points to growing uncertainty amongst consumers and a rapidly changing external environment. Furthermore, it is clear that the impact of Brexit and the growing migration of Irish consumers to foreign based online retail channels will continue to present real threats to the sector in the year ahead. This constantly changing picture makes planning ever more difficult for retailers and many continue to operate on short terms planning cycles in order to remain agile and flexible to the quickly changing trading environment."